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March 28th, 2003
Channeling Your Tantrum Matters

“I don’t want to talk about anger right now,” one of Saddam Hussein’s advisors is reported to have said as he fled a Baghdad government building.
Whole world’s angry these days, isn’t it? I suppose I could use the war as an excuse for going 45 through the McDonald’s parking lot, but we’re all adults here, and I think we can understand that it’s not my fault I’m late just because Dr. Phil ran overtime.
Powerless lately? When we are powerless, we seethe. I’ve been generating far more than my fair share of stomach acid as of late because I’ve been spending many hours a week in a toxic work environment; there was gossip and there was incompetency…

March 21st, 2003
The Human Story of Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic

In Oscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic, editor Mar?a L?pez Vigil paints a collective portrait of the beloved prophet, pastor, consoler, and martyr of El Salvador.
Some 200 ordinary campesinos, priests, laity and even some wealthy people tell their personal stories and recollections of Msgr. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador in the late 1970s. Most of the vignettes are less than a page long. Many tell fascinating and riveting stories of people’s work with the archbishop and show how El Salvador’s economic and political crisis was marching its people towards civil war.
The 423 page book published by EPICA is skillfully translated from Spanish into English by Kathy Ogle.
The scoop on his conversion…

March 21st, 2003
A Gulf War Veteran's Notes on Faith and War

There was nothing glamorous about watching missiles explode or about seeing an F-14 Tomcat smash into my ship’s stern on its final approach.
The Kitty HawkThe
United States Navy aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk exceeds 1,000 feet in length and displaces 186,000 tons. She is a floating city that contains 5,000 men, each trying to escape the monotonous schedule a ship maintains to ensure peace or fight war. A faith dimension in your life is necessary to forget about a daily regimen that is emotionally and spiritually demanding.
This present war has caused me to remember my time in the Persian Gulf onboard Kitty Hawk, a ship that’s capable of launching four bomb-laden aircraft simultaneously from steam-operated…

March 20th, 2003
Global Perspectives on the War: Chile, South America

Arica, Chile—Even thousands of miles away from the current conflict in Iraq, war is the principal theme on people`s minds here. The newspaper carries stories of U.S. military might next to worldwide protests, with the front page often showing images of Iraqi children whose health has been violated by U.S. aggression.
I can only imagine the media overload that characterizes the U.S. currently when Arica, Chile—a town that is arguably as far from the war as one can be—is consumed by coverage. I cannot adequately express the frustration that this chaos causes in my heart. As a means of maintaining hope, I offer a few glimpses of peace that I pray may provide a blueprint of love to contrast with the current plans…

March 19th, 2003
Reluctant Saint: Francis of Assisi

Sex, drugs, and mandolins. That pretty much describes the first half of Francis of Assisi’s life, says best-selling author David Spoto.
His book, Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi premieres as a TV special Palm Sunday, April 13, 7-8 p.m. EDT (check local listings) on cable’s Hallmark Channel .
Born in 1182 into a wealthy Italian textile family, Francis “spent half his life as a rather disgraceful playboy. Stranger to no excess, he began to experience a series of graces which began his conversion,” Spoto recently told a Los Angeles audience. The author has also written biographies about Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Tennessee Williams, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.…

March 19th, 2003
Dating Thoughts from Someone Who Nose

I have a large nose. I have a bad sense of humor. I don’t date much.
Basically, by saying the first two sentences I probably didn’t have to add the third one, right?
And I spend a lot of time talking to my guy friends about why it is we’re still single (just as a side note, their noses and senses of humor are much more normal than mine–so I’m not sure what their excuses are…).
And you know what I tell them I’m looking for? A Catholic woman.
All right, I admit I usually add a bunch of other superficial things onto that list, but when it comes down to it–that Catholic thing is pretty important. So would you call me prejudiced? In today’s society, I know it sounds narrow-minded to only…

March 19th, 2003
Parkinson's-Plagued JPII Taking Care, Looking Stronger These Days

“Let’s get physical, physical. I wanna get physical…”
I can still picture the headband,
the 80′s perm, and the cliché fat sweaty guy. Yep, I remember Olivia Newton John’s video for “Physical” like it was just yesterday. The fact that I’ve finally reconciled the loss of my mullet proves I’ve had a tough time moving on.
And it’s amazing how much can change over just a couple decades. Music…fashion…I hear people 20 years ago even lived without cable TV. (What an odd world that must have been.) And yet, the one thing which remains constant in an ever-changing world is our faith. And for those of us in our 20s and 30s, there’s been another…

March 19th, 2003
And Other Workplace Self-Improvement Projects

Every year I give up chocolate for Lent�it’s a no-brainer for me. But this year I decided to raise the bar a little and get to the heart of something that’s been chipping away at me for some time: Work was becoming a negative influence in my life. I’d begun allowing myself to be overcome with frustration because of various stresses, ranging from long work hours to conflicts with coworkers. It was time to change my attitude about the place I spend such a large portion of my day.
Become a duck…
Everyone reacts to stress differently. It was clear that everything and anything was getting under my skin. So I decided to become a duck . How? Well, rather than absorb every offhanded comment someone would make

March 19th, 2003
The 26-Year-Old Buddhist Nun and Activist Won't Be Silent

Type Ngawang Sangdrol’s name into any Internet search engine and prepare to be bombarded. A quick Google hunt reveals over 2800 web pages carrying her name?with good reason. Ngawang Sangdrol, a Tibetan Buddhist nun and Tibetan independence activist, was for a time China’s longest-serving female political prisoner. Before her October 2002 release on medical grounds, Sangdrol had spent 13 years in a Chinese jail. She is now 26 years old.
Sangdrol’s activism started young. In 1990, at age 13, she and other Buddhist nuns were arrested in Lhasa, Tibet for peacefully protesting against the Chinese. During her first few months of incarceration, Sangdrol was beaten so often that she sustained…

March 18th, 2003
Jesus Was Voted Out Too

Bless me, Father , for I am about to draw a connection between Your Son’s Passion-the story of his suffering and death read in Catholic and other churches this Sunday, Palm Sunday -and a “reality” TV show.
No, not Fear Factor, although it wouldn’t be hard to make a case for it. No, the show is Survivor, and the connection is to Roger , a guy who was recently cast off the island at the hands of a few of his so-called “friends” and several of those whom he irritated immensely.
The player is played…
Roger was a man’s man. A leader. He worked tirelessly to accomplish the goals of the tribe, and he pushed those who were on his side pretty hard. Sometimes too hard, and that may have been

March 18th, 2003

The Jesus Experience gives a broad overview of the history of Christianity in different parts of the world. While these documentary-style episodes are not quite on the same scale of entertainment as Chicago or Catch Me if You Can, The Jesus Experience squeezes in quite a bit of information.
Latin America The Latin American episode begins with a cultural immersion into the indigenous way of experiencing Christianity. It shows the development of the faith from the time of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries. Experts, mostly United States Latino theologians and historians, give their additions to the accounts of the past. The audience is presented with major points such as the appearance of Our Lady of…

March 17th, 2003
"The devil envies those who are tending towards a better life." St. Ambrose

I belong to Toastmasters, a public speaking organization
that focuses on the art of speaking, thinking, and listening. I’ve been with my club for several years, and my big goal is to someday, some way, deliver a great speech. Not just a good speech, but a great speech. A JFK speech. An MLK speech. Just one. I’d be happy with one. I’m like the guy from that Twilight Zone episode where he’s a salesman who wants to deliver one last pitch before he dies, a “pitch to the angels.”
Me, I’d like to give a speech for the angels.
And I want to badly.
Luckily for me, I have a couple guys in my club who serve as fitting models whom I strive to emulate. Now don’t be fooled. When I say “emulate,”…

March 16th, 2003
Baby, Tall Guy, and the View from God's Shoulders

My baby cousin Kaitlyn issues from small stock. Her father is short, her mother even shorter, and her grandparents no towering giants. Her eighteen months on this planet have been populated by people who talk soft, walk tiny, and lift low.
Imagine then Kaitlyn’s reaction to my brother-in-law, who is six foot seven. Her father needs to climb onto a folding chair in order to slap him a low five.
When Kaitlyn caught sight of Britton across the room, she burst into tears and buried her head in her mother’s pantsuit, which, as I understand it, is Standard Baby for “Oh, hell, no.” She would have nothing to do with that decidedly un-short person.
Scared baby, hurt man For the rest of the evening, whenever…

March 15th, 2003

The events of Good Friday are violent, to put it mildly. The crucifixion of Jesus and all the events leading up to it are disturbingly violent, ugly, noisy, and bloody. John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion (traditionally read at services) is filled with images of the screaming crowds, the betrayal of friends, the tearing of garments, and a controversial, heated trial. The whole day encompasses one disturbing event after another with enough violence to fill an Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
Silence amid violence
I always find it so interesting that people often commemorate the events of this disturbing, chaotic, violent day with silence. Houses of worship are never so…

March 15th, 2003
Practicing Resurrection for Easter

I regularly check into a community discussion board called craigslist. On the morning that Baghdad fell, almost as if staged for the world’s all-seeing cameras, someone posted a message entitled “Wake up slacker, and watch history!” There’s a way in which these Easter morning readings can make us laugh in a similar nervous bemusement as well as fill us with a humbling sense of awe and responsibility.
The vigil is over.
The long night has passed into day.
Friends and family have been baptized and received into Christian community.
But when the long night of fear and chaos is over, or even when the rowdy joy of the party is over, then what? You mean there’s life after that? You mean I…

March 11th, 2003
South Texas to DC and the Challenge of Embracing Change

There were moments after arriving here in DC from rural south Texas that I felt I was dealing with a different animal altogether. After all, I exited the Farragut North subway station in the morning watching well dressed, perfect-looking people carrying their shoulder bags and slurping their lattes while chatting on their cell phones, presumably planning thhe next power lunch of the day.
A long way from South Texas…It was a stark contrast from the world of farmers, housewives, and runny-nosed children in which I had existed the two years previously while teaching at a small Catholic school in South Texas. My previous days consisted of “morning prayer” and role call; then lunch counts and bathroom…

March 10th, 2003
Scripture Reflections for Sundays in Lent

Readings:
Exodus 20:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
A chaotic scene
Jesus must have looked like a crazy man on his angry rampage through the Temple, a place crammed with people due to the upcoming Passover.
And he most likely created chaos. Just picture the stampeding cattle, sheep, and merchants trying to get the hell away from this angry man, with broken tables and lots of loose change underfoot. Jesus made a mess in a sacred space. He created a scene.
But it was worth it to him. There were people and merchandise in the Temple that needed to be thrown out. Buying and selling had no place in a house of worship, Jesus thought. So he stormed the temple, crashed into the merchants and customers, and said basically,…

March 10th, 2003
Does the Glamour of Evil Make It Easier to Believe In?

I am going to break one of my own writing rules here, and turn to Hollywood for wisdom:
“Why,” said George Burns, representing God, “is it so easy to believe in that movie about exorcism, and not believe in me? All she did was spit out some pea soup, and suddenly everybody’s talking about the devil.”
Well�evil, at least on the surface, is cool. Hit the true crimes section of any bookstore: We cannot get enough of guts and guns and rape. Hanging around with Ned Flanders , on the other hand, is the quickest ticket to the non-invite list. Witchcraft, Satan, possession, hell�these are things not discussed in polite company, and we are therefore endlessly fascinated.
Back in the fall,…

March 7th, 2003
Sometimes Anger Is the Daugher of Hope

Mad as hell…but without hope
There’s a famous scene from the movie Network where newsman Howard Beale who is fed up with the manipulation, lying, and general state of things decides to go on live television and declare to the world, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” He encourages others to join him but gets nowhere. Becoming despondent over his powerlessness, he ends up killing himself on national television, giving his network great ratings in the process. He began by being angry at all that was wrong but he ended by giving up and adding to the wrong. His anger lacked hope, the kind of hope born of faith.
Anger and Augustine
Saint Augustine , back in the 4th century…

March 6th, 2003
The Spiritual Search of a Student Activist

Early bloomer
My roots in activism grew quickly. I became aware of many world problems through the help of some Southeast Asian friends during my sophomore year of high school. At that time, Indonesia was fighting for the right to have free elections; people were dying for the right to freely mark a piece of paper.
I knew something was wrong there and in other similar situations around the world, but was unable to put my finger on what that something was. As I discovered more, I desperately clung to whatever political ideology was at hand, trying to uncover that something.
Through the rest of high school, I protested injustice, published ‘zines, engaged in debate with my friends; knowing dozens of sociological…

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